Made a 10 minute video with Kdenlive

I just finished a sizable project using Kdenlive.

The results are viewable here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sbgcKFPywo
It's a comedy news show in Japanese, so if you don't speak Japanese, the content won't make much sense. And if you do speak Japanese, it probably won't make you laugh (Hey, it's our first try...).

Anyway, I'm posting here with some general observations about using Kdenlive. I know some of these aren't new or unique, but since I'm hoping to do more shows in the future using Kdenlive, it would be worth raising the issues as I see them (and worked around them). Maybe future fixes will help these problems.

By the way, I used the latest SVN for this project, as of about November 20th.

Of course, Kdenlive crashed a few times. It's a beta, what can you do? It's still way ahead of others, like Cinelerra and Jakhasha for stability, as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, an additional crash issue is that sometimes last saved file gets corrupted. One time It made it so that the timeline marker would not move and so I couldn't choose where to stop and start playing. Another time, file simply wouldn't open. So, eventually, I got into the habit of alternating between two save files, so if one got corrupted, the other would most likely still be fine.

Also, you can cause it to crash by clicking between options too fast, or doing things like accidentally putting a video clip into an audio track.

Anyway, I don't suppose anyone is surprised that a beta crashes a bunch. The two more important problems with Kdenlive are video sizes and audio syncing.

First, the video syncing problem. Simply put, assuming you're working with a clip that has sound embedded in it, if you split that clip up, the sound in the second segment is no longer synced when the timeline is rendered. This gets worse with each split or new video track laid down.

This only happens when the project settings are set to NTSC, though. By switching to the project settings to PAL, the sound syncs fine.

But then you run into the video sizing problem. What can I say about this one? Getting video to reliably output to the right pixel size, aspect ratio, and frame size is very difficult. In the video above, you will see that the opening animation sequence has black bars on top or on bottom. But the rest of the video doesn't. I tried resizing that opening animation, changing it's format, rendering with MLT_NORMALISATION=NTSC on and with it off... but black bars would always be on either the top and bottom, or on the sides. Even though all original footage used in the clip is the same.

So since I was forced to use PAL to solve the audio problem, this just added another layer of complexity to the size and ratio problem. I really hope this gets rationalized to where I know I can put in a 640x480 video clip and simply get a 640x480 video clip out again (unless of course, I deliberately resize it...)

Onto smaller oddities:

When I add a single image as a clip to the timeline, and expand it's length, often times it seems there is an arbitrary maximum length. Since it's a still frame, all I need to do is append another image to fill out the time I intend for it to be on screen. But it seems to be an unneccesary limitation.

Near the end of the video above, there are some overlayed transparent images, and when they appear, there is a flash of black, because on the first frame the transparency didn't take. I couldn't get them to stop doing that.

Playing the video in the timeline monitor after adding or moving tracks will not show the latest changes, or at least will be somewhat random in how it shows how things look. Playing a few times through seems to eventually show the video in it's most current state. Doesn't stop you from being productive, but does slow you down.

Lack of animated transparency is a bummer. Luma wipes are nice for home videos, but for placing graphics over top an image, animated alpha
channels, or luminousity maps, would be fantastic. In the beginning, I was able to fake the effect of having the sun ray move out of the way to reveal the newscaster becayse it was close enough to one of the luma wipes. But it takes a lot of time to experiment with settings to get it to match close enough, and the result is never going to be perfectly accurate.

In the end, however, I was able to complete a project, albeit not perfectly.

Kdenlive is definitely the best hope for decent video editing on Linux. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing it become more and more stable and robust.